Purchasing a contract parking space is one way for University employees to guarantee on-campus parking. And while most students are not eligible for these spaces, some graduate students’ cars sport the valued hang-tags.
Parking and Transportation Services officials decide who is eligible to buy a contract space. But these stipulations are not always enforced, and ineligible students are taking advantage of this.
Any University employee ranked in the 75th percentile on the payroll is eligible to buy a contract spot, said Linda Rogers, administrative director of Parking and Transportation Services. She also said the applicant’s payroll status is always checked.
This status check, however, is not as thorough as it claims to be.
Steve Wendell, a graduate student in molecular cellular developmental biology and genetics, is ranked in the 50th payroll percentile and rents a contract spot from the University in the Oak Street Ramp.
“I initially received a spot three years ago in a Health Sciences temporary lot,” Wendell said. “When the temporary lot was destroyed I was relocated.”
Maria Breitenfeldt, former graduate student at the University, received a contract space in 1996 — also while ranked under the 75th percentile.
After several unsuccessful attempts, Breitenfeldt finally received a contract spot when a temporary lot opened. Now relocated to a different lot, she never formally applied for a space.
Doug Bornemann, a former graduate student at the University, received a space three years ago — also without applying. While looking for, but not finding, a space on the St. Paul campus during the Minnesota State Fair, he called Parking and Transportation Services to inquire about a special permit.
“Without asking (about student status), I was offered a contract spot,” Bornemann said. He took the space, and began to park in the assigned St. Paul campus lot.
Graduate students often find a way to get around the system, said Breitenfeldt. Although technically not allowed, many say they feel justified because of the amount of time they actually spend at the University vs. the amount of money they are paid.